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Framing or Focal Point?

Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
Tue, May 31, 11 at 10:22

Sometimes objects in the landscape can be both a framing device and the focal point of a view, depending on whether your focus is near or far. Here's a tree which frames a view most of the time, while having its own sculptural interest at all times. However, when the tree trunk is lit up by the late afternoon sun, it becomes the focal point from any point of view throughout the garden. Changing light can do that in a garden, and is not always easy to plan for. Trees grow, views get obscured, light no longer reacts within the garden in the same ways over time. This particular garden is well located at the crest of a west facing slope overlooking the San Francisco Bay, so it presents many opportunities to use late afternoon light in interesting ways.

Here is a link that might be useful: Frame or Focal Point?


Follow-Up Postings:

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Framing a focal point

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Tue, May 31, 11 at 15:48

Another view illustrating how different viewpoints within a garden change everything. This garden is different than the average suburban garden in that it doesn't have any large lawn area to act as negative space, and is more akin to a Japanese Stroll Garden with pathways winding through the slopes to experience the garden. This same tree from the first photo is now definitely a framing device for a longer view back towards the house. Accent palms and trees were located to act as full stop focal points at key intersections of garden paths, framed by the others in the garden. Depending on the angle of view, each plant/tree/palm switches back and forth in the role it plays within a garden vignette.

Here is a link that might be useful: Now it's a frame


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RE: Framing or Focal Point?

Gotta love all the lush greenery in your photos. As a Phoenix landscape design firm, we don't typically get to work with such intensely lush gardens. But the principles you mention still apply. Each object in the landscape might serve different purposes from different view points or at different times of day. A wise landscape designer definitely has to plan for all the possibilities.


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RE: Framing or Focal Point?

Thats a really excellent example! I think that is one of the things that makes designers special; the ability to consider multiple aspects of one plant and its relationship to the surroundings at the same time. Its a part of designing that I have difficulty expressing at times. I really admire Piet Oudolf and his books have a very different way of expressing those varied plant qualities. The first time I read one of them I remember thinking that it was a glimpse into the way his mind works and it worked differently from most other garden authors.

You are exactly correct when you write this "Casuarina torulosa is a fabulous accent tree if you like your bark chunky and corky, and the Cyathea cooperia 'Brentwood' tree fern trunk beyond leading your eye to the background shaggy Trachycarpus fortunei palm in the back center of the photo are all variations on the theme." As I was looking at the first picture I thought about how a tree as amazingly interesting as the Casuarina torulosa could become a frame - its color texture and structure is so dominant and strong. In the second picture it is very clear that the way it is balanced by the Cyathea does create the frame. I think in part it is the similarity of the color and texture of bark - but then the Cyathea draws the eye further with its branching pattern.


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RE: Framing or Focal Point?

  • Posted by laag z6CapeCod (My Page) on
    Wed, Jun 1, 11 at 7:14

This is what I was talking about in the other framing thread. When you focus your thoughts on one design tool, it does not make the other effects go away.
Great follow up subject and example.


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